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Am J Hypertens. 2010 Jan;23(1):2-5. doi: 10.1038/ajh.2009.206. Epub 2009 Nov 12.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in primary aldosteronism: a pilot study.

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  • 1Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, University of Padova, Padua, Italy.



An impairment of glucose metabolism, contributing to the increased cardiovascular risk, has been shown in primary aldosteronism (PA). Insulin resistance is associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and may play a role in its pathophysiology. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between NAFLD and PA, and to identify determinants of NAFLD in this condition.


A total of 40 patients with PA, 40 sex-, age-, and body mass index matched patients with low-renin essential hypertension (LREH) and 40 normotensive subjects were studied. According to ultrasound detection of fatty liver, each group was subdivided in two subsets: with NAFLD and without NAFLD. Patients with diabetes, obesity, and hyperlipidemia were excluded.


Prevalence of NAFLD in PA was similar to that observed in LREH patients, and higher (P < 0.01) than in normotensive controls. Serum potassium was lower in PA than in LREH patients with NAFLD (P < 0.001), while it was similar in PA and LREH patients without NAFLD. At univariate analysis, plasma aldosterone, homeostasis model assessment (HOMA) index and hypokalemia were determinants of NAFLD in PA (P < 0.05), while HOMA index was associated with NAFLD in LREH (P < 0.05). At multivariable analysis, only hypokalemia remained associated with NAFLD in PA (P = 0.02).


The results of this pilot study suggest that, in the absence of major risk factors for liver disease, NAFLD is a frequent finding in PA. Patients with PA and hypokalemia are more insulin resistant and have higher prevalence of NAFLD than those with normokalemia, indicating greater risk for metabolic and liver disease in this subgroup.

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